Passionate about hard to find fragrances? Check out Luckyscent.com. Inconsolable because your favorite lipstick color was discontinued? Threecustom.com will make it for you from a sample or pull from their database, and they also do custom-blending.
For the Surprise Party Enthusiast
What it is: Although birchbox.com also sells full-size beauty products, it's best known for offering $10-a-month "subscriptions" for four to five haute beauty samples to be delivered to your door monthly.
What we think: Birchbox.com really does live up to its mission of being a fun, smart, stress-free way to sample high-end beauty products. First, there are no shipping and handling fees, and you can cancel your membership at any time without cancellation fees. My box of beauty goodies came adorned with pink tissue paper in a pink-embellished, gifty-sweet box. The surprise of what's coming is part of the delight, but the surprises are tailored to the client — when you sign up, you fill out a "Beauty Profile" about your general preferences, skin color, hair color and texture and beauty concerns. My samples — which included Archipelago Pomegranate Soap, BVLGARI Mon Jasmin Noir perfume, indigo-colored Stila eyeshadow and AHAVA mineral hand cream — pretty much hit my beauty sweet spot. Nars, Laura Mercier, Marc Jacobs and others are also partner brands.
For the Traveler
What it is: An online boutique offering luxe beauty and grooming products in sizes approved by the Transportation Security Administration for airline carry-ons. They are perfect for the jet-setter, road-tripper, city gym-schlepper or the beauty lover with a wandering eye for whom a full-size product is just too much of a commitment.
What we think: Brilliant idea. Why pay the extra cash to check your bag because your beauty products are too big to take on board? High-flying brands include Ted Gibson, Malin + Goetz, Phyto, The Art of Shaving, Go Smile and Ole Henriksen. If you are staying in New York City within a certain area they even offer a messenger service.
For the Planet Earth Steward
What they are: Spiritbeautylounge.com is dedicated to products from companies with clearly defined humane, ethical and environmental policies, including product packaging that's 100% biodegradable, reusable or recyclable; animal-free product testing; and organic or natural ingredients. Nubonau.com's goal is to connect people with the finest natural and organic brands in the world.
What we think: Finding a host of high-end, organic and/or ethically made beauty products all on one site can be a challenge. Spiritbeautylounge.com does the footwork for you with flair. Tata Harper, Intelligent Nutrients, Patyka and Chocolate Sun are gorgeously notable brands.
NuboNau, their website says, translates to "CloudNine" in Esperanto. The shipping box containing my order — Intelligent Nutrients Certified Organic Anti-Aging Serum for $60 — was filled with silver and white sparkly confetti, a hand-written thank you note and generous free samples. Signature brands include Dr. Hauschka, Pai Skincare, Strange Invisible Perfumes, Juice Beauty and REN.
For the Internationalist